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Practicum/ Internship

Because we are a Psy.D. Program, there are high expectations regarding practical training. Given that students who are admitted must have a Master’s degree from a program where they provided counseling under the supervision of an appropriately credentialed professional, students are scheduled to begin their practica immediately upon starting the program and continuing at various sites until they leave for internship. The sections below provide some information about practicum and internship training.

Practicum Placements and Supervisors

Students typically participate in three practicum placements that run across Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, spending an average of 16 hours a week on-site (e.g., two full days; this does not include commuting time to and from the placement) during the Fall and Spring semesters and 8 hours a day over the Summer. Within these 16 hours, the goal is for students to have face-to-face contact with an average of 10 clients per week (8 hours in Summer, with 5 of them spent with clients). Thus, the overall goal is for students to have  1500 or more total practicum hours before leaving for internship, at least 500 of which are client contact hours (so far, all the students heading off for internship have earned at least this many hours). This will maximize competitiveness for internship and may also help satisfy training hours required for licensure. In fact, the Virginia Board of Psychology changed the regulations so that practicum hours can count toward licensure in certain circumstances and we have designed our practica to meet the requirements. This means that our students will be eligible for licensure in Virginia upon graduation from the Program and passing the national licensing exam.

We are continually adding new sites, but the following places have indicated a willingness to accept qualified Psy.D. students.

  • Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare (Roanoke)
  • Catawba Hospital
  • Free Clinic of the New River Valley (Christiansburg and Giles County offices)
  • New River Valley Community Services (both the ACCESS unit and the Child & Family Services unit)
  • Radford University Student Counseling Services
  • Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute (Marion)
  • Virginia Department of Corrections (Bland, Marion, and Pulaski facilities)
  • Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center

Incorporated within the overall practicum sequence are two “social justice practica” in which students spend one day a week at a local agency where they provide consultation, outreach, program development / evaluation, and grant-related work on social justice activities. This is one way that our program is integrating social justice into the program and providing additional services to our community.  So far, over 1500 hours have been provided to several community-based organizations and various parts of Radford University that are focused on social justice-related activities. For a list of sites and activities, see the Social Justice section on the Program Emphases page.


A 2000 hour-long internship is required.  We are aware of the issues associated with the internship imbalance and have included several components in the program to maximize the likelihood that our students will be placed in high-quality sites. For example, as discussed above, the practicum training sequence is designed to allow students to receive at least 1500 total practicum hours, 500 of which are in face-to-face contact with clients. The curriculum is also practice-heavy, with several assessment and applied courses. These efforts helped all three students who applied for internship for 2011-2012 “match” in the first round with APA-accredited internships.

In addition, Psy.D. faculty have collaborated with the RU administration and Carilion Clinic, which runs the RU Student Counseling Services, along with with faculty from the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and administrators at Stone Mountain Health Services (http://www.stonemtn.org/) in far Southwest Virginia to develop the East Tennessee / Southwest Virginia Predoctoral Psychology internship Consortium. The Consortium has one slot for an RU student at Student Counseling Services as well as one slot for an ETSU student and one slot for an RU student at Stone Mountain. We also added the Child and Family Services unit at New River Valley Community Services to the consortium in the Spring of 2012 and this site has one slot for an RU student.


Stone Mountain is a Federally Qualified Health Center with several offices located in a very rural part of Virginia, near the Tennessee and Kentucky borders. Thus, the internship is set up for interns who have some experience and interest in working in an integrated care setting with a rural population. In terms of the placements, each of the interns spends 6 months in the Pennington Gap clinic and 6 months in the St. Charles clinic.

  • At Pennington Gap they participate in a child and adolescent specialty clinic (under the supervision of Dr. Polaha from ETSU) in addition to the standard integrated care efforts.
  • At St. Charles they participate in:
    • the black lung specialty clinic (which is one of the leading sites in the country; (http://www.stonemtn.org/blacklung/;  http://www.webmd.com/lung/tc/black-lung-disease-topic-overview),
    • a Suboxone clinic (http://www.suboxone.com/),
    • and perhaps in telehealth (again with Dr. Polaha),
    • in addition to the standard integrated care approach.
  • At both sites there are opportunities for longer-term therapy but this is not the primary emphasis of the internship.

There are several other benefits associated with this internship position:

  • Stone Mountain has made it clear that if the internship year goes well then they would likely offer jobs to the interns to help them continue to fill the need in their many clinics. In fact, they hired the two interns they had for the 2011-2012 internship year as well as an RU student who interviewed for the 2011-2012 internship but accepted an APA-accredited internship instead.
  • Stone Mountain is an approved National Health Service Corps site, so interns who are hired as employees can apply for loan repayment after one year of post-degree work (this wait time is a NHSC requirement, it does not depend on licensure).
  • Another benefit of the internship consortium is that because of the changes to the Virginia Psychology regulations, interns can count practicum hours that meet certain requirements toward the post-doctoral hour requirement. They therefore are eligible for licensure upon completion of the internship, graduation, and passing the EPPP at an appropriate level.


RU Student Counseling Services (http://www.radford.edu/content/student-affairs/home/student-health/counseling.html/) is a unit in the Division of Student Affairs. The following information is from the RU SCS website.

Student Counseling Services supports the academic mission of the university through the enhancement of student learning and retention. Student Counseling Services provides learning opportunities for students to grow as individuals, to form deeper relationships with their peers, and to develop as successful members of our community and society at large.

The primary purpose of the Student Counseling Services (RU SCS) is to assist students with typical student developmental issues and to provide short term, professional counseling to students with mental health concerns.

Student Counseling Services (RU SCS) provides quality mental health care to Radford University students, consultative services to the larger community, and training to graduate students in the mental health field. All services are provided under the direction of licensed, credentialed, and experienced mental health professionals. Staff is guided by the highest professional and ethical standards of their professions and is dedicated to providing quality services.

Services Provided

  • Individual, couples and group psychotherapy
  • Medication evaluations and management
  • Professional consultation
  • Referrals for specialized services
  • Educational programming
  • Emergency assessments


The New River Valley Community Services (http://www.nrvcs.org/) is the equivalent of the community mental health center for 4 counties and an independent city. The following information is from the agency’s website.

NRVCS is a public provider of behavioral health services to residents of the New River Valley. The agency serves children, adults and families by providing community-based programs for mental health, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, and related prevention services.

Established in 1969, NRVCS serves the counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery and Pulaski, and the City of Radford. New River Valley Community Services is part of a state-wide system of Community Services Boards, which serves residents throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The mission statement of the NRVCS is as follows:

New River Valley Community Services provides community-based behavioral health services that promote independence and improved quality of life for our citizens.

New River Valley Community Services provides services in the areas of mental health, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, and related prevention services.

The agency's programs and services are offered through four units. They include:

  • Access: Emergency Assessment and Adult Outpatient Services
  • Adult & Family Services
  • Child & Family Services
  • Financial & Administrative Support Services

The intern will be working in the Child & Family Services Unit. The remainder of this section focuses specifically on this unit.

The mission of Child and Family Services is to support, strengthen, and promote healthy growth and development in children, youth, families and communities throughout the New River Valley. There are several services offered through this unit: Early intervention and case management, in-home services, mental health supports, school based therapy / day treatment, day treatment, child and family outpatient services, and prevention. The intern will work in Child and Family Outpatient Services providing individual, family, and group therapy as well as psychological assessment and case management.